(A Former Catholic Nun)
Some people have asked me whether Christians should have Christmas trees and Easter baskets. It is true that these customs do have pagan origins. However, that was many hundreds of years ago. Most people associate these things with family traditions and fond memories from the past, not with paganism.
Personally, I see no harm in these traditions. At least, not for most people. However, if someone has personally engaged in NeoPagan practices which are related to these things, then they need to pray for wisdom. For example, someone who venerated sacred trees might be wise to avoid Christmas trees. Someone who practiced candle magic might be wise to avoid using Christmas candles or other special candles.
If you don't feel right about Christmas trees and Easter baskets, then don't use them. And don't let social pressure push you into using them. We need to follow our conscience. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
If you believe that it is alright to have Christmas trees and Easter baskets, then enjoy them. But if you have friends or family members who don't feel right about it, then don't put pressure on them to participate. They need to follow their conscience. The Bible tells us not to do things which might cause our brothers or sisters to fall. (See Romans 14:13)
There is another important principle. Jesus said that the devil is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) Christians are supposed to tell the truth.
If you give your children an Easter basket, make sure that they know that it comes from you, and not from the Easter Bunny. You can tell them that the Easter Bunny is an old folk custom, but there really is no such thing.
Above all, make sure that your children know that Santa Claus is a folk tradition, and not a real person. This is important. You tell your children that God is real. If you tell your children that Santa Claus is real, then what will happen when they find out that he isn't? Why should they believe what you told them about God?
I live in America. Thirty years ago, America had a Christian culture which generally supported and reinforced the Christian faith of our children. So finding out that Santa isn't real might not have challenged a child's faith in God. But today our culture is no longer Christian. The Christian faith of American children is challenged by a public school system which promotes secular humanism. It is challenged by the entertainment industry. There are TV shows, movies, song lyrics, comic books, magazines, and books which promote philosophies and moral values that are opposed to Christianity. If children go to college, their faith will be challenged by professors, textbooks, and classmates.
What can you do if your children already believe in Santa Claus? Ask God to give you wisdom. Ask Him to show you how to tell them the truth in a way that shows your love for them and your desire to give them good things and nice surprises. And pray for God to strengthen the faith of your children.
What can you do if your children believed in Santa Claus and have since learned that he doesn't exist? You can ask them to forgive you for having deceived them. That will demonstrate your love for them, and how much you value the truth. They may act as if it doesn't matter, but things often impact people more than they say. If any damage was done to their faith, God can fix it. Ask Him to strengthen their faith. Remember that God promised to make everything work for the good of people who love Him. (Romans 8:28) That includes our mistakes. If your children love God, then even your mistakes will work for their good.
Halloween is in a category of its own. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV wanted to replace the pagan festival of the dead, so he introduced All Saints' Day, which was observed on May 13. The date was changed to November 1 by Pope Gregory III. The night before (October 31) was known as All Hallows Eve, which became known as Halloween. It was observed with traditions which come from pagan customs. [Note 1 gives addresses of on-line articles.]
Halloween is a time when there is vandalism and arson. Detroit, Michigan had so many fires on the night before Halloween that October 30th was called Devil's Night. By 1984, this had spread to three days (October 29-31). There were over eight hundred fires that year. Using curfews and other aggressive measures, the city was able to reduce the amount of Halloween arson and vandalism. [Note 2 gives the address of an on-line article.]
Halloween glorifies death. Decorations and costumes feature skeletons and ghosts and monsters. It is traditional to watch movies which feature violence, monsters, or the occult. Some people visit haunted houses where costumed actors try to frighten people.
Halloween glorifies the occult. You see children dressed as witches, the devil, and ghosts. Decorations feature witches and ghosts. It is also a time when real witches and real Satanists do occult things. October 31st is an important day for them.
In case you don't think that there are people who have occult power, the Bible says that there are. In Exodus 7:10-12, Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh. Aaron throws down his staff and it turns into a snake. Pharaoh calls for his sorcerers and magicians, who use enchantments to do the very same thing. But Aaron's snake eats up all of the other snakes.
The bad news is that occult power does exist. The good news is that God's power is infinitely greater. Aaron didn't need to use enchantments. And his snake ate up all the others. Also, those snakes did not harm Moses or Aaron.
The Bible says that the enemy of our souls does have power, but he cannot harm people who believe in Jesus Christ, obey Him, and have committed their lives to Him. Jesus said,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Jesus has all power and authority, and He protects the people who belong to Him. He has overcome every kind of evil that exists in this world. If Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, then His power will protect us from occult power. God has promised that He will make all things work out for our good if we love Him. (Romans 8:28)
We need to balance this with Jesus'statement, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Luke 4:12) It is one thing to have trouble come upon us through no fault of our own. It is quite another thing to go looking for trouble. God says that occult practices are an abomination and He forbids His people to participate in them.
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire [child sacrifice], or that useth divination [fortune telling], or an observer of times [astrology], or an enchanter [working spells], or a witch [practicing witchcraft or consulting a witch], or a charmer [using charms and other objects for protection or good luck], or a consulter with familiar spirits [channelling], or a wizard [doing magic], or a necromancer [spiritism, contacting the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
Some of these practices have become quite common in our society, especially during Halloween. Christians need to avoid these things, and to repent if they have done them.
Sin has built-in consequences. Drunkenness causes hangovers. Sex outside of marriage can result in heartbreak, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies. Occult practices can lead to fear, depression, nightmares, and tormenting thoughts. If people repent, then God can heal them and set them free. But it would be better to avoid the problem in the first place. When God tells us not to do things, He is not being a killjoy. He is trying to protect us.
Parties and candy and costumes are fun. We can find creative ways to allow kids to enjoy themselves without participating in Halloween. For example, we can have a Harvest Party, with a harvest theme. If people want to wear costumes, they can come as nice things, such as Bible characters, or historical figures, or animals. One church had a Harvest Party which was advertised by a large sign. They used it as an evangelistic outreach.
Some people use Halloween to evangelize. When kids come to their door, they give them an appropriate tract along with their treats. Some friends of mine dressed up in nice costumes (one was a ballerina). They went door to door, telling people about Jesus. On Halloween, people expect strangers to come to their door. It worked well for evangelizing.
I read about a man who had two carved pumpkins. One had a sad face and no candle. One had a happy smile and was lit up by a candle. He used them to illustrate the difference between having God's life inside of you, and not having it.
Some people have prayer meetings on Halloween. It is a good time to pray for God's protection, especially for children. It is a time when there is increased vandalism and arson. And it is a time of occult activity. It is an important night for witches and Satanists.
Following is a link to an excellent article about Halloween. It is written by two Christians who are knowledgeable and compassionate.
If you are a Christian who has participated in occult practices, then I recommend two books by Dr. Neil Anderson. He is a Baptist minister who has helped many Christians in similar situations. His approach is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. Victory Over the Darkness should help most people. If you suffer from fear, depression, nightmares, or tormenting thoughts, then I recommend that you read The Bondage Breaker.
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article and to put it on your own web site. You have my permission to copy this article, to quote from it, and to distribute copies of it. You have my permission to incorporate this article into publications of your own, including translating it into other languages. Please give this information to anybody who might be interested in it.
1. Eric Barger and David Benoit have an excellent article about Halloween, written from a
knowledgeable Christian perspective. Following that are some articles from secular sources.
Eric Barger and David Benoit. Halloween: This Trick Is No Treat!
The History of Halloween
All Saints Day
The Story of Halloween
2. Urban Community Intervention to Prevent Halloween Arson — Detroit, Michigan, 1985-1996″. This article is on-line at two addresses.
Copyright 2002 by Mary Ann Collins.